Puff Pastry is my Enemy

December 30, 2010

Well, at least my waistline’s enemy. It’s just too darn easy to make beautiful and yummy treats out of the stuff!

But first, my apologies for my absence these past few weeks. I had hoped to find time to post a recipe or two, but the season’s production schedule and sales kept me busy. No complaints, but I’m glad for more free time to play in the kitchen, dig through those drawers, and find long forgotten toys!

Cream-Filled Puff Pastry Horns

Last winter, I bought a couple packages of “cream horn molds” from an outlet kitchen shop. Six metal tubes in each for $2.99. Stuck the things in a drawer and didn’t open them until last week when I decided it would be a lovely idea to experiment for our family’s dessert on Christmas.

Cream Horn Molds

Cream Horn Molds by Norpro

Now, I don’t generally recommend experimenting for large family gatherings, but anything that turns out this wonderful on the first go around gets two thumbs up. With puff pastry, it’s just too hard to go wrong. No time to find these molds? There are a dozen ways to prepare your puff pastry without them; from making two equal-sized circles, cutting out the center of one, and layering it on top of each other; to folding up these triangles.

The hardest part to making these yummy desserts is deciding what to fill them with. I couldn’t decide, so I made three:

  • zabaglione cream (tiramisu filling – mascarpone, eggs, sugar, vanilla), 1/2 batch with only half the eggwhites to make it more dense (1.5 whites to 3 yolks)
  • 1/2 batch easy chocolate mousse with chopped, dried cherries
  • 1/2 batch mocha chocolate mousse (just add espresso)

They’re all simple to make, but they do need to be made at least 4 hours before you use them so they’ll be firm enough to stay where they’re put.  No time? Whip some cream, spoon it into a Ziplock bag, cut a corner off the bag, and squeeeeeeeze into the baked horns. Grate a little dark chocolate on top and you’re golden. Kick it up a notch by adding fresh berries or flavoring your whipped cream with almond or lemon or….

What You’ll Need

  • one or more packages of puff pastry (2 sheets each)
  • cream horn molds or other creative way of making a receptacle for the filling (see “triangles” link above)
  • filling
  • whipped cream for garnish and for filling the very base of the baked horn
  • grated dark chocolate for topping
  • pastry tubes or Ziplocks to disperse the fillings

The Puff Pastry Horns

  • Thaw the dough for 40 minutes, unfold, and smooth with a rolling pin on a lightly floured board.
  • Depending on how many molds you have, each sheet of puff pastry (two sheets per box) can be cut into eight or nine 1″ strips.
  • Squeeze one end of the strip around the point of the mold and twirl the strip around the metal. Lay on a cookie sheet with the end of the strip facing down.
  • Per the instructions on the back of the mold package, let the pastry rest for 1/2 hour between wrapping and baking. We waited on the first batch, didn’t on the second, and didn’t notice any difference. See that  glass of red wine in back of the wrapped molds? Might of had something to do with it. (I highly recommend having one or two of those on hand during this process.)
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Cool for a few minutes (just enough to not melt the fillings), and fill. The Ziplocks weren’t getting the dense chocolate mousse all the way to the bottom of the horn, so we dispensed just enough whipped cream in each one to fill up the point.
  • The zabaglione cream was by far the favorite, but I think the chocolate mousse complimented it well. Whatever you decide on, spoon it into a pastry tube or ziplock (cut off a small corner), flill up the horns, grate some dark chocolate on top, and serve.

Baked and Ready to Fill

Puff Pastry Cream Horns

Yum! Yum! Yum!

Between thawing, wrapping, baking, cooling and filling, it does take a bit of time to make these. Once the dough was thawed, we were filling and serving these to order within 40 minutes. During a large holiday meals, a break between the meal and dessert can be a welcome pause. If you want to serve them right after dinner, the horns can be made ahead of time, although the ones we ate that were still a bit warm were melt-in-your-mouth good. A minute or two under a broiler did the trick for leftover horns. We didn’t have any filled horns leftover, so I can’t tell you whether they’ll store well or not if once they’re filled.

My husband’s one complaint? Why hadn’t we ever made these before! They were such a success, I’m planning on making them for New Year’s Eve. Something tells me they’ll go very well with champagne.

Buon appetito~

Tiramisu means pick me up, and this dessert does just that. Okay, the coffee helps, but I also attribute its appeal to the fact that this is truly bliss-in-a-dish.

I first tasted Tiramisu at an after-hours birthday party in the big top of an Italian circus, and I was officially blown away. It wasn’t only the juxtaposition of animal dung, sawdust, and a dessert that was so light and creamy and unexpected, but because the woman who made it seemed incapable of making something so heavenly. (May I introduce you to my catty side?)

I soon discovered that that this is one of the easiest desserts to make. (A HA!) You may spend more time locating the ingredients than creating the dessert, especially if you live in rural Oregon. Keep a line on your suppliers — once your family and friends taste it, the requests will pour in.

Savoiardi: If you can’t find the cookies locally, purchase from a specialty shop online. Make sure they’re crisp. Okay, hard. On they’re own, I find them inedible. Moistened with coffee and liqueur and used as a vehicle for the custard, they’re perfect.

Mascarpone: All mascarpone is not created equal. Italian imported is, of course, the best, but a 1 lb. tub may set you back $15 – $20 dollars. Find it at specialty groceries or cheese shops. There is an American version I find locally which is sufficient, but I do notice the difference in both taste and texture.

Espresso: If you don’t own your own machine, ask a coffee shop for a deal on 4 to 8 shots in a cup. If you want less caffeine and milder coffee flavor, go for 4 long shots drawn out to 1 cup. If you don’t mind the caffeine and want the coffee punch, ask for 8 ristretto (short) shots.

Liqueur: Restaurant Tiramisu often has strong alcohol in it, such as cognac or rum, which I feel overpowers the delicate taste of the mascarpone. Some recipes call for coffee liqueur; I use amaretto. If you want a non-alcoholic version, use a tad more coffee. I wouldn’t choose to go non-alcoholic, but if I had to, I’d add a bit of almond extract to the coffee.


1 box (7 oz.) savoiardi cookies (lady fingers). Appx. 2 dozen cookeis

6 eggs, separated*

1 lb. mascarpone cheese (room temperature)

1/4 c sugar

1 t vanilla

4 – 8 shots of espresso (1 cup)

1/4 c amaretto liqueur

powdered cocoa

Serving dish: 9″ x 9″ is a little small, but 11″ x 13″ is large, so if you have something in the middle… A deep dish works well so the top cocoa layer doesn’t stick to any lid when it’s covered.

  1. Beat or whisk the egg yolks for a couple of minutes until they start to thicken. While gradually adding the sugar a spoonful at a time, continue beating the yolks until they thicken and appear pale in color (5 – 10 minutes). Gently beat in the mascarpone until the mix is smooth, fold in the vanilla, and set aside. The mix should pour in a ribbon.

    Egg Yolks Beaten with Sugar

  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks but are still smooth. If they’re not stiff enough, your mousse won’t set and turns to drool. If they’re over-beaten and start to clump in the mixer, your mousse will turn grainy. (I have managed to accomplish both of these feats once — but only once — over the years.) Fold into mascarpone/yolk mix.
  3. Mix the coffee and amaretto and pour into a shallow container not too much larger than the cookies. Dip the cookies in horizontally and turn. I turn each cookie 2 revolutions, which keeps the cookies moist but not soggy, and it takes 4 seconds or less. If you like your tiramisu “wet” with coffee, you may want to slow it down (and you’ll need more coffee). If you like it firmer and drier, try turning only one revolution. If you’re not sure, better to go too light than end up with soggy cookies. Cover the bottom of the dish with dipped cookies — snug, but not packed. You shouldn’t use more than half your liquid.
  4. Cover the moistened cookies with 1/2 the mousse. Dust with an even layer of powdered cocoa.

    Cocoa Dusted Mousse

  5. Arrange a second layer of moistened cookies. Cover with rest of mousse and dust with cocoa. Inspired to make it fancy? Cut a design into a piece of stiff paper and use it for a dusting pattern.
  6. Cover and chill for at least a couple of hours. (A day is better.) Enjoy!!!


* Note: This recipe uses raw eggs, and although FRESH raw eggs do not usually carry Salmonella or other bacteria, it is possible. Such bacteria can be dangerous to small children, elderly, and sick people. Only use eggs from a trusted source.